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COVID-19 and your Mental Health

Actualizado: 28 dic 2020

The worry and anxiety that we are experiencing as a result of COVID-19 and its impact is truly overwhelming.

The coronavirus has thrown the world into uncertainty and the constant news about the pandemic can seem relentless. All of this is affecting the mental health of people, particularly those who already live with conditions such as anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders.

Worrying about the news is understandable, but for many people it can make their existing mental health problem worse.

This pandemic has also brought us profound changes in the way we are used to living life: alterations in our routines, the necessary social distancing making it even more devastating and even financial pressures wreak havoc on our health. Likewise, the possibility of contagion, not getting medicines or their high costs, not knowing how long this situation could last and even how the future will be after all this.

An aspect that contributes to deepen these concerns even more is the excess of information or misinformation to which we expose ourselves daily.

At first, when the World Health Organization released tips to protect mental health during the coronavirus outbreak, it was well received by all communication channels. However, in the course of time and as a result of this same unease there has been an overload of information, rumors and inaccuracies that, far from helping to preserve good judgment, take us almost to the edge of a cliff. For sure, there are still many aspects related to the coronavirus that are just beginning to be studied by the scientific community and therefore many pending ropes to tie, and consequently not even science knows the true truth.

We read or hear through social networks aspects of how to take care of the pandemic: gargling with salt claiming that they change the PH of our saliva and thereby destroy any infection that may lodge there. No, the coronavirus has not been manufactured by man, nor will garlic cure you. Drinking a lot of water does not `` lower '' the digestive system, although it is very good to hydrate you. The heat? The scientific evidence obtained so far indicates that the virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic can be transmitted anywhere on the planet, including tropical countries. These are just a few examples in popular belief. In short, as many rumors as there are traditional and alternative media.

This has been so much that the WHO itself has recognized the situation and has introduced a new term to the vocabulary: Infodemia. Fortunately for many, these myths have been discarded.

The medical community is trying through various practices to come up with a cure. In the same way, the international scientific community accelerates the work to obtain the vaccine that eradicates such a serious scourge.

Emotions such as anxiety are present because human beings tend to worry about the unknown and wait for something to happen: the coronavirus is the same, but on a macro scale. Anxiety exceeds even the most sane minds, compromising our physical and mental health and of course our well-being. It is well affirmed ̈Mente sana in corpore sana '.

 We must be generous with ourselves and take the time to listen and get to know our body better and what it demands of us.

Are we currently experiencing different feelings? Stress, anxiety, fear, sadness and loneliness, just to mention a few?

Self-care strategies are good for our mental and physical health; they can also help us take control over our lives. Take care of your body, your mind and connect with others to benefit your mental health

First of all, the first thing we must take into account is your state of health.

1. Get enough sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Stick to your typical daily schedule, even if you stay home. Dress for yourself, like when you go to the office. Staying in your pajamas makes you feel like you're on vacation, but really this quarantine time of taking care of ourselves is NOT a vacation. Get regular physical activity. Physical activity and exercise are an excellent combination to reduce anxiety and improve mood. Look for activities that require a lot of energy: dancing, insanity or lifting weights, walking ... You can even download applications to dance or exercise on your computer. If you do it outdoors, find an area that makes it easier for you to keep your distance from people, according to what has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States and the World Health Organization.

2. Eat healthy. Eating a lot does NOT mean eating well. Choose a well balanced diet. Avoid consuming junk food and refined sugar. Limit caffeine, as it can aggravate stress and anxiety.

3. Avoid the consumption of tobacco and alcohol. If you smoke, you already have a higher risk of lung disease per se. Because COVID-19 affects the lungs, your risk increases even more. Drinking alcohol to try to cope can make things worse and reduce your coping skills.

4. Limit your time on your devices and screens. Turn off electronic devices for some time each day, even 1 hour before bed. Make a conscious effort to spend less time in front of a screen: television, tablet, computer and phone.

Take care of your body

5. Relax and recharge. Make time for yourself. Even a few minutes of silence can be refreshing, help calm us down and reduce anxiety. Read, listen to music, practice yoga, sports or some activity of this nature. Select a technique that works for you and practice regularly.

6. Reduce stress triggers:

7. Maintain your routine. Keeping a regular schedule is important to your mental health. In addition to following a bedtime routine, keep your same times for meals, bathing and dressing, working or studying, and exercising. Also make time for activities that you enjoy. This can help you feel more in control.

8. Limit exposure to the media. The constant news about COVID-19 through all media can increase our fears. Limit your use of social media that can expose you to rumors and false information. All informational communication channels, including social networks, have the obligation to circulate only verified information. Likewise, those of us who have online access are obliged to disseminate what we are learning about what to do and what not to do.

9. Refer only to information published by the World Health Organization. 10. Stay busy. A distraction can take you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that fuel anxiety and depression. Enjoy hobbies you can do at home, identify a new project or clean that closet that you promised you would arrive. Doing something positive to control anxiety is a healthy coping strategy.

11. Focus on positive thoughts. Choose to focus on the positive things in your life, rather than thinking about how bad you feel.

12. Use your moral compass or your spiritual life for support. Drawing strength from your beliefs can bring relief in difficult times.

13. Set reasonable goals each day and describe the steps you can take to reach those goals. Set priorities.

14. Connect with others. Make connections. Since we must stay home and quarantine, avoid social isolation. Find time each day to make virtual connections via email, text messages, phone or FaceTime, Zoom, HouseParty or similar applications. If you work remotely from home, ask your co-workers how they are doing and share helpful tips. Enjoy virtual socialization and talk to those in your home.

15. Do something for others. Find a purpose to help the people around you. For example, send an email, send a text message, or call your friends, family, and neighbors, especially older people. If you know someone who cannot go out, ask them if they need any type of input that you can look for such as groceries or some medicine, always remembering to follow the recommendations on social distancing and group meetings. If a family member or friend needs to be isolated for suspected contagion and needs to be quarantined at home or in the hospital or becomes ill, find ways to stay in touch by phone. This will be of great benefit to both of you.

16. Recognize your feelings, what is normal for you and what is not. Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the demands of life. We all react differently to difficult situations, and it is normal to feel stress and worry during a crisis. But facing multiple challenges on a daily basis, such as the effects of the pandemic, can detonate it beyond your ability to cope. Many people may have mental health problems, such as symptoms of anxiety and depression during this time.

17. Despite trying your best, you may feel helpless, sad, angry, irritable, desperate, anxious, or scared. It is normal to have trouble concentrating on your usual tasks, changes in appetite or mood, body aches and pains, or trouble sleeping or you may have difficulty coping with routine tasks. When these signs and symptoms last for days in a row, making you miserable, and causing problems in your daily life that make it difficult for you to carry out normal responsibilities, it's time to ask for help.

18. Seek help when you need it. Waiting for anxiety problems or depression to go away on their own can make symptoms worse. If you have concerns or if your symptoms worsen, do not hesitate to seek help, even from a trusted family member to talk about your feelings. You can also talk to a spiritual guide or someone from your religious community.


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